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View Full Version : Immigrant Pipers in U.S. history?


MikeNomad
05-23-2005, 08:33 PM
With the great number of Scots and Irish who immigrated to the pre 1900 American South, isn't it strange that dulcimers,guitars and fiddles made it over but no pipes?

Dryburgh
05-23-2005, 11:59 PM
There has been some discussion of this in earlier threads.

For example one reason given for the undermining of musical traditions, amongst the large number of Scottish Highlanders who immigrated to the Carolinas in the mid 1700's and later was religious in nature. Such music was considered the work of the devil and actively discouraged by the various fundamentalist sects who often dominated these communities.

This is not to say there were not pipers who immigrated, but over time they apparently lost much of the status they would have had at home and there was little to encourage them passing on the skills and tradition.

JH
Portland OR.

Adam Sanderson
05-24-2005, 02:27 AM
The fiddle was THE hugely popular instrument in Ireland and Scotland prior to the 1900's. Bagpipes would have been very, very rare compared to the fiddle.
There are some notices of pipers in America from that time, but they are very few and far between.

As far as I know, there is no historical connection with Ireland or Scotland and dulcimers or guitars. I thought the guitar had Spanish roots and the dulcimer German?

Adam Sanderson
05-24-2005, 05:21 AM
Since I made the post above, I found this interesting link regarding the settling of the Appalachians
http://www.scotshistoryonline.co.uk/rednecks/rednecks.html

If the majority of settlers were Scottish Lowland and Ulster Presbyterians, there would not have been many bagpipes among them!!

Dave Sanderson
05-24-2005, 07:49 AM
From my understanding the "non piping' Scots went to the US & the "piping" Scots went to Canada.

Ian Lawther
05-24-2005, 08:34 AM
As Adam says the guitars origin's are Spanish. Its huge spread and popularity in the US was not because of immigrants however but thanks to Sears Roebuck.

As catalogue mail order became a way for people across the country to purchase what was readily available or fashionable in the more highly urbanised areas Sears wanted to include instruments for young women to learn the musical arts. Whilst the middle classes in the east might have a piano for this purpose these weren't particularly practical for a mail order firm and they hit on the guitar as an alternative which could still be played politely by a young lady.

With regard to the Lowland and Ulster Scots the term often used for them is Scotch-Irish, and whenever it comes up there is an outcry about the Scotch part. The current differentiation between Scots and Scotch is fairly modern and at the time of this immigration Scotch-Irish was perfectly accepted and correct. And it has stuck in the back waters where these people settled and therefore is the correct term as far as they are concerned. It is what they called themselves. I read one book recently which happily discussed "Scotch-Irish settlers with Scottish roots" covering all bases correctly.

Ian

John Dally
05-24-2005, 08:41 PM
The only documentation that I've seen on the subject appeared in the JOURNAL OF THE NORTH AMERICAN ASSOCIATION OF LOWLAND AND BORDER PIPERS, which was published by Brian McCandless back in the early 1990s. Tom Childs found an early Border pipe that dated back to the Regency period, but who knows when that set came to the US. The JOURNAL also reported on at least one set of pastoral pipes that was also discovered in the mid Atlantic region. It seems likely that if there were pipers among the Scotch-Irish then they probably played pastoral or Border pipes.

Is there a tradition of ballad singing in Canada? The descendents of the Scotch-Irish famously sang ballads from the Borders of Scotland and England.

ghettopipes
05-25-2005, 01:03 AM
Perhaps the tempermental nature of the pipes or reed instruments in general made the natural immigration and spread of the pipes here too hard to happen on a large scale. Especially in the what was considered wild frontier until a few decades before the civil war at least (regarding the south), and several decades after regarding the west. Strings are ready to play when strung for the most part, easy to travel with. To where pipes need resources and a attention a more civilized or settled area could provide.
just a thought.

cheers

Nessie
05-25-2005, 06:14 AM
Re: Immigrant Pipers, in US History.
I believe that there was a piper John McGregor present and playing his pipes at the battle of the Alamo in 1836. At least according to a Doco/movie called "INSTRUMENT OF WAR" (1997) And here's the clincher; Charlton Heston was doing the voice over on the movie! If Chuck says it's so.... it MUST be true!!

Adam Sanderson
05-25-2005, 06:42 AM
Yes, I've read many reports on John McGregor at the Alamo, he was among 30 Scots there, but none of the reports say it was a Great Highland Bagpipe.
McGregor came from Aberfeldy in Perthshire, so it's nice to think that he was playing a nice set of MacDougalls, or something of that ilk! But, McGregor performed musical ‘duels’ with American folklore legend and second generation Scot, Davy Crockett, who played the fiddle. If he played alongside the fiddle, wouldn't a bellows pipe make more sense? Bellows pipes were manufactured in Aberfeldy, there's a set in the College of Piping Museum. Just a thought.
Anyone got any further info?

phinson
05-25-2005, 02:04 PM
One of the last MacCrimmons, Donald Ruadh settled in (North?) Carolina prior to the American Revolution. But he sided with the crown and was wounded and captured at the Battle of Moore's Creek (I think that was the action). His family went to Nova Scotia and later returned to Scotland.

Immigration from Ireland to the US has historically dwarfed immigration from Scotland. Before the Revolution, around 50,000-70,000 Scots came to the 13 colonies while 250,000 people, most of whose ancestors were originally Lowland Scots, came here from what is now Northern Ireland.

Barry Shears
05-25-2005, 03:14 PM
Do you mean Scots-Irish pipers or pipers from Scotland and Ireland?
A good book on Scottish (Highland)immigration to the USA, especially before the American Revolution is "Cargoes of Despair and Hope: Scottish Emigration to North America, 1603-1803" by Ian Adams and Meredith Somerville,(Edinburgh: John Donald Publishing, 1993.)
I do not remember the page number but it does mention , I think, nine immigrants who listed their occupations as pipers in the 18th century.Similarly, further North in British North America, piping was still considered to be an occupation by immigrants to Nova Scotia in the 1838 census. Three such individuals listed their occupation as piper, and recent research indicates that two of the men were also pipe makers so perhaps the profession of piper at the time included an ability to also make instruments.

Barry Shears
05-25-2005, 03:42 PM
During the last few year I have compiled a list of immigrant pipers to Nova Scotia and compared it to the numbers of Highland immigrants to the province during the period 1773-1848. It shows , roughly, a ratio of 1 piper per 850 immigrants.This is not a scientific survey and not doubt I have possibly missed the names of a few immigrant pipers, but it does show that pipers accompanied the Gaels wherever they went and in significant numbers.
It is unfortunate that much of the history about pipers in the 19th century stems from what little we know about the tacksman or middle- class pipers such as the MacCrimmons, Mackays, etc, and relatively little information exists regarding the tenant class of pipers, the numbers of which seemed to have dwarfed their middle-class counterparts.
Certainly religion played a role in stiffling Gaelic instrumental music but it should be remembered that the piping colleges were still extant for much of the 18th century and the MacGregor school was still training significant numbers of pipers for use in the army at the end of the 18th century.
As for the American South east there might still be a few old instruments laying around. A picture of a fine two-droned set was published a few months ago in Piping Today, with a short history of its coming to the United States, so who knows what might turn up if local interest is shown.
On a related topic, there is a local story concerning well known NS piper, Harold Sutherland. ( He actually played his bagpipes at the Grand Old Opry back in the 1950s) While on a visit to this part of the US he encountered a very old, blind piper, who played by ear. Harold is reputed to have learned a few tunes from him and there is at least one melody which I know of which, according to local folklore, may be attributed to this blind piper.
A few thoughts,
cheers,
barry

Adam Sanderson
05-26-2005, 02:49 AM
Fascinating info Barry, as usual. I'm actually surprised that the number of pipers was as high as 1 piper per 850 immigrants. Maybe Highland immigrants to Nova Scotia contained a rich stream.
You are correct in that the tenant class of piper is overlooked. I'm assuming that with the high cost of a set of bagpipes many of them would have used homemade or not so high quality instruments. I've wondered if a lot of the much maligned 'tinker pipers' we read of in old reports were tenant pipers, or the equivalent.

Barry Shears
05-26-2005, 05:18 AM
Adam,
The list of immigrant pipers is not quite complete and there are a few wrinkles. If we slpit the immigrant population further by locality and date of immigration from Scotland the ratio goes up in some areas and down in others.
Some of the smaller, late immigrations from North Uist in the 1840s had few pipers. The late 1820s- early 1830s saw, among several other piping families, no less than four separate macIntyre families of pipers from South Uist who settled in Cape Breton. One of these families were descended from Duncan MacIntyre, family piper to MacDonald of Clanranald from about 1758-1768.
The tacksman class of pipers who came to NS/ PEI did so from about 1800-to 1818 and included the Mackays of Gairloch, Conduille Rankin, Mull, John MacGillvray, Hector Johnson, Coll, Kenneth Chisholm of Strathglas,and Robert MacIntyre, Rannoch. This period appears to have been the most difficult financially for these middle-class musicians and a decrease in their influence and standard of living seems to have been the prime motivators for emigration.
barry

Barry Shears
05-26-2005, 06:11 AM
I agree with your assesment of tinker pipers and no doubt the playing of these Scottish musicians probably mirrored some of the older styles found in Cape Breton until recently. I suspect they were, as in Cape Breton, ear-learned musicians whose playing still fulfilled a role in Scottish society. With the spread of musical literacy in Scotland, competition, unison band playing and the increasing influence of the piping establishment the lively playing of these "inferior" musicians was stamped out. Changing tastes in entertainment in the 20th century also contributed to the elimination of this form of folk music, although it appears to have been eviscerated much sooner in Scotland than in the New World 'Gaidhealtach'.
The Scottish instructors brought over to teach at the Gaelic College, Cape Breton, in the late 1950s- 1960s, dismissed all local piping and dancing traditions as second rate ( and in the case of Step-dancing, not even Scottish at all) and over time these 20th century Scottish notions of correctness and ownership of tradition were successfully transplanted in Nova Scotia.
Time to put my 'soap box' away for bit,
Chers,
barry

Dryburgh
05-26-2005, 09:39 AM
Barry,

Your account of the 'tenant' class of piper and later 'tinke pipers' as a separate group from the 'Taksman" or middle-class pipers is facinating.
Any suggestions for further reading on the subject as well as the piping traditions in Cape Breton and Nova Scotia? would be most welcome.

Thanks,

JH
Portland, OR

JES
05-26-2005, 09:50 AM
I hesitate to try contributing to a discussion among real students of a subject, but I will. I think when people emmigrate they prefer to go to a place where the landforms and weather are like they were at home. Scandanavian people did not have the benefit of the ( now weakening) Atlantic current so 20 to 40 below zero in Minnesota was like home. The Scots and Irish were comfortable living in the same mountains they had had at home, the Appalachians, which were just moved further south to make up for the lack of the ocean current. The vikings(no offense whatsoever intended) used to go south just for a chance to see the sun in the winter. Present day vikings have second homes in Arizona,New Mexico, and Florida where they are most welcome indeed.

In the 1890's my mother's father emmigrated, worked for Hudson's Bay for awhile, then went home got a wife and left Londonderry for good. We don't know when it was the move was made to N. Ireland. He settled first in Virginia as a tenant. Before 1910 he went north to NY state to look for land found 500 acres and moved there in the spring. Just in time to see what had seemed like dirt under the snow was in fact 50% rocks. He could not have played had he wanted to because he had lost a good portion of one hand in a hunting mishap. But he was terribly pleased when an otherwise useless grandson took up the pipes. Under a kerosene lamp he tried for awhile to teach me the checkers he had all his life played by mail with people back home. Those games took a long time. But I was good for nothing. Kerosene is bad stuff, but I still miss those lamps.

John Dally
05-26-2005, 09:40 PM
Barry,
I hope we can read the results of your research in a fine publication someday. We might all want to lobby the Canadian Arts office to give Barry the assistance he needs to bring his important work to print. The story of traditional pipers in Cape Breton, and elsewhere, desperately needs to be told.

Barry Shears
05-27-2005, 05:12 AM
Dryburgh,
John Gibson has written two good sized books on the subject of piping in Scotland and Nova scotia, and his research has shown serious flaws in some of the traditions pipers have been taughtas Gospel. Donaldson's book on the Highland Pipe and Scottish Society is also good, but one has to really search for the references to non-literate playing of light music since he dwells more on Piobaireachd, prize-wimmers and patrons, and its associated teachers and traditions.I have three books on the subject of New world piping but these are more historical/ musical works.(Please excuse the self-promotion)
I am unaware of any research dealing specifically with "tinker pipers" and this derogatory term would seem to have stiffled any serious research as to the function and repertoire of these Scottish country minstrels.
I realize that I have taken the discussion a bit off topic so I will try to return to the original post-Immigrant Pipers in US history-
I am sure if someone had the time, financial resources and inclination they could research references to piping throughout much of the Atlantic Seaboard through archival sources such as newspaper articles, obituaries, personal journals, etc.John Pearson researched many of the Montana pipers in his study of Keith (?)Cameron which was submitted as an MA thesis a few years ago in the pacific NW. Other areas for possible research would be references to pipers in the Carolinas- with settlement of 50-70,000 Scotch highlanders there must have been a significant number of pipers. Further afield there were numerous Scottish immigrant pipers to places like New York and Boston in the 1890-1920s. Pipers like James MacDonald of New York. He was a pupil of Gold Medalist PM Sandy MacLennan, MacDonald had several pipe tunes published by David Glen in Scotland; or David Ferrier, Boston, a young scottish immigrant piper to the USA who led alot of Pipe bands, competed and adjudicated Highland games as far North as Sydney, Cape Breton in the 1920s. Actually i think the Boston piping scene is a long overdue area of piping research
There is no shortage of topics, just a shortage of interested researchers, and as John Dally mentioned, funding.
barry

Dave R
05-27-2005, 06:14 AM
Hi Ian, and all....

Ian said
With regard to the Lowland and Ulster Scots the term often used for them is Scotch-Irish, and whenever it comes up there is an outcry about the Scotch part. The current differentiation between Scots and Scotch is fairly modern and at the time of this immigration Scotch-Irish was perfectly accepted and correct. And it has stuck in the back waters where these people settled and therefore is the correct term as far as they are concerned. It is what they called themselves. I read one book recently which happily discussed "Scotch-Irish settlers with Scottish roots" covering all bases correctly. I was reading a history of a blood feud in northern england about 980-1080. The author, a respected achademic, stated that Scotland was settled from the west by irish settlers, who drove the native picts into a pocket in the north east of the country.

Where does that leave us in terms of ethnicity?

Dave R

Dryburgh
05-27-2005, 07:22 AM
Barry,

Thank you very much for the references.

No excuses needed for the 'self promotion' - your work is to be highly congratulated.

Re- the 'Tinker pipers', I realize the huge time commitment required for further research of such projects. I have done some- very limited and amaturish- research into early pipers- and pipe bands in the US Pacific Northwest - and have come to realize that much more in the way of resources - both time and money- would be required to to a decent job ot it.

Best regards,

JH
Portland OR.

John Dally
05-27-2005, 08:59 AM
Originally posted by Barry Shears:
John Pearson researched many of the Montana pipers in his study of Keith (?)Cameron which was submitted as an MA thesis a few years ago in the pacific NW. John Pearson continues to research D.C. Mather, who features prominently in his book on A.K. Cameron, mentioned above. John's research has turned up some very interesting things about Mather, who left Scotland about 1900. At that time there was a significant community of Highlanders, many of whom were pipers, in Montana working on sheep and cattle ranches, and also mining. Interestingly, they seemed to be very keen on pibroch. Alec MacMillan from Colonsay, taught by Robert Meldrum, John MacColl and Ronald MacKenzie, moved to Tacoma where he worked in a smelter. He taught Colin MacRae, the son of Alec MacRae, another Highlander who immigrated to Montana around 1900. As far as I know, Colin MacRae is the last piper to know the MacKay/MacKenzie style of pibroch mentioned by Donaldson in PIPERS. Tempo, rythmn and an emphasis on intent are things that distinguish his style from others popular today.

Barry Shears
05-27-2005, 11:11 AM
dryburgh,
It is very good news that you are collecting information on the pipers in your area. The more traditions collected from wherever scots settled will only enhance our understanding of the changes which piping has gone through in the last 200 years.
John Dally is being modest in his assesment of Colin MacRae's piobaireachd playing, John is a student of Colin's and as such has picked up some 'tasty" settings of some well-known and not so well known 'Piobaireachdan'.
IMHO there has been a certain sameness of playing creeping into piping in the late 20th century which is why I consider styles which exist outside the mainstream so important.
barry

Donald Ross
05-27-2005, 12:46 PM
Thank you for exposing John's modesty, Barry. I met him once and this does not surprise me.

So, John. Is there a way that a person could get some piobaireachd instruction on this style and it's history from you or Colin MacRae Sr., or Jr.?

I have moved a little further away from you than when I was in Bellingham, but even to send mp3's or CD's back and forth with a copy of the settings you could make notes on would be useful.

Klondike Waldo
05-27-2005, 06:19 PM
There certainly were pipers ( and pipemakers) in the Boston area back in the early 20th Centruy, and probably earlier. The First Scots in the area came as indentured prosoners of war ( read slave labor) to the iron works in Saugus and Braintree in 1650. The prisoners had been taken at the battle of Dunbar. I doubt any pipers among them would have been allowed to keep his instrument, let alone play it among his Puritan captors.

John Adams recorded in his journal that he delighted in the music of a bagpiper in the Scottish village of Athol, Massachuseetts one night on his way to Philadelphia as a member of the Continental Congress. The incident is noted in David McCulloch's "John Adams".

Ian Lawther
05-27-2005, 06:41 PM
Originally posted by Klondike Waldo:
I doubt any pipers among them would have been allowed to keep his instrument, let alone play it among his Puritan captors.
I think we have to be careful with regard to the views of Puritan killjoys in this period. Much of what we know of them comes from what was written by monarchist after the commonwealth ended and Charles II assended the throne. The Comwellian period had some odd contradictions about it. Whilst catholics may have suffered (not surprisingly seeing as the leaning of Charles I towards catholicism was a root of the Civil War) Jews were allowed to reopen synagogues and worship as they had not for many years. Also remember that Playfords Dancing Master was published during the Cromwellian period (1651 I think)....not something one would expect from the image we are often given of the "Puritans".

Ian

MikeNomad
05-30-2005, 06:22 AM
WOW Since posting this you all have shown how generous you are with your vast knowledge. Thank you

John Dally
05-30-2005, 11:10 PM
Barry and Donald,
Thanks for the generous words. I just spoke with Colin this evening and he mentioned he's doing lots of recording these days. I've read some of the book he's working on, which will be of great interest to pibroch players, I hope, and anyone interested in the "old pipers."
I don't claim to have any secret knowledge or that I'm the next in line in the MacKay/MacKenzie school of pibroch. I don't play the tunes exactly as Colin does. He doesn't want me to, nor did his teacher want him to play the way he did. The idea is not that you parrot what your teacher plays, but work out your own way of playing it. The idea that one should play a tune (pibroch or light music) exactly the way another piper did, even if that piper is Bob Nicol, is a very modern idea according to Colin. Colin's approach involves a great deal more variety in how you play the standard movements, an emphasis on rhythm and the other things I mentioned above. He has several different ways of playing hiharin, for example.
Colin jr has never caught the pibroch bug, but another of Colin's sons, Kenneth, is keen on it.
I hope this helps, and that it's not too far off topic.

Dave R
06-07-2005, 10:18 AM
Ian, and all, Hi

Also remember that Playfords Dancing Master was published during the Cromwellian period (1651 I think)....not something one would expect from the image we are often given of the "Puritans". As i remember Playford, and a lot of his friends, and dancers/dancingmasters had Royalist leanings, and there has been some talk of a conspiricy or secret society, using dancing lessons as meeting places.


Dave R

Piper at Large
06-07-2005, 01:47 PM
I remember reading a recently researched history of Cromwell and he didn't come off as too "puritan". He was mostly a parliamentarian and pissed off that Charles I was trying to rule and spend money without them. According to Cromwell, the King was breaking the law. According to Charles, he had a divine right to do as he pleased. Religion didn't play that big a part. There were a fair number of protestant royalists. Any anticatholic stuff would have been part of the 30 Years War in Europe which was taking place during the English Civil War. Now that was a big religious war and that kind of protestant-catholic hatred was running very high in the mid 1600's.

Klondike Waldo
06-07-2005, 07:50 PM
Originally posted by Ian Lawther:
<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body">Originally posted by Klondike Waldo:
<span style="font-weight: bold"> I doubt any pipers among them would have been allowed to keep his instrument, let alone play it among his Puritan captors.
I think we have to be careful with regard to the views of Puritan killjoys in this period. Much of what we know of them comes from what was written by monarchist after the commonwealth ended and Charles II assended the throne. The Comwellian period had some odd contradictions about it. Whilst catholics may have suffered (not surprisingly seeing as the leaning of Charles I towards catholicism was a root of the Civil War) Jews were allowed to reopen synagogues and worship as they had not for many years. Also remember that Playfords Dancing Master was published during the Cromwellian period (1651 I think)....not something one would expect from the image we are often given of the "Puritans".

Ian </span></div></div>However the Puritans in the Massachusetts Bay Colony were not as tolerant as their English brethren. Connecticut and Rhode Island were founded by preachers who were driven out of the Commonwealth, basically, and among the other groups persecuted Catholics and Quakers were prominent, but not the only ones supressed. The first Jewish Congregation in New Englad was founded in Newport, Rhode Island- a much more tolerant environment than Masasachusetts.Catholics and Quakers in Massachusetts were banished, often after being publicly scourged and were under penalty of death should they return. One sister of the Society of Friends (name escapes me at the moment) has a memorial statue on Boston Common very near the place where she was hanged.
Old Beantown was not much of a fun place to be back then, you might say.

phinson
06-08-2005, 07:06 AM
In the 1630s, Cromwell considered moving his family to the Massachussetts Bay Colony. This is from Antonia Fraser's biography of Cromwell (p. 69). She doesn't say if it was for economic reasons, politics, religion or a combination of these. BTW, I always thought it a bit ironic that the early 1970s film bio of Cromwell cast Richard Harris, an Irishman, in the lead.

Concerning religious intolerance in Massachussetts, the banishing of "religious undesirables" brought about the founding of the colony of Rhode Island (and maybe Connecticut too?).

Paul Hinson

JES
06-08-2005, 09:16 AM
What reading I have done indicated the colonization of CT was, at least in part, to counter the expansion of Dutch influence up the Hudson river. This was given as the reason for the settlement of Old Saybrook. My father's people arrived there about 1640 or 1650. Arguably it has been downhill for us ever since.

JES
06-08-2005, 09:18 AM

JES
06-08-2005, 09:20 AM
This is getting out of hand.